Gain Storage Form Factor Flexibility with NVMe* Over PCIe*

By Peter Krass.

Key Takeaways

  • NVMe* over PCIe* drives allow for form factor flexibility, especially when compared with older SATA drives.

  • SATA supports two SSD form factors commonly used in data centers. PCIe* supports seven.

  • The higher storage capacities on NVMe* over PCIe* drives give you a powerful way to help your customers consolidate their storage space.

  • Moving to NVMe* over PCIe* will let you design your data tiers around a common interface.

author-image

By

More form factor choices give you (and your customers) more flexibility.

Thinking of specifying SATA drives for a customer's new storage servers? You might want to think again.

Sure, SATA drives are cheap to buy. But if your customer needs the flexibility to handle newer SSD form factors, you should instead consider recommending drives built around NVM Express* (NVMe*) over PCIe*.

How flexible does it get? Well, SATA supports just two SSD form factors commonly used in data centers. PCIe* supports no fewer than seven.

You probably know that the NVMe* interface protocol allows host software to communicate with both enterprise and client SSDs via PCI Express. That’s important because PCIe* now comes standard on many modern servers.

In two earlier blog posts, we looked at how NVMe* over PCIe* can support your quest for greater storage innovation and storage scalability. In this post, we’ll look at how the protocol allows for form factor flexibility, especially when compared with older SATA drives.

7 Form Factors – Better than 2

As mentioned above, the SATA standard supports just two SSD form factors commonly used in data centers: 2.5-in. x 7mm (up to 7.68TB), and M.2 80mm (up to 1.92TB).

More form factor choices give you (and your customers) more flexibility.

And PCIe supports 7 options:

  • E1.S (up to 4TB)
  • E1.L “ruler” 9.5mm (up to 30.72TB)
  • E1.L “ruler” 18mm (up to 30.72TB)
  • M.2 – both 80mm and 110mm (up to 2TB)
  • U.2 15mm (up to 30.72TB)
  • Low-profile HHHL x4 (up to 6.4TB)
  • Low-profile HHHL x8 (up to 6.4TB)

Real Cool Storage

There’s another advantage of having flexibility around your storage form factor options: greater operational efficiency. A broad range of option also means you can move away from less-efficient designs.

The higher storage capacities on NVMe* over PCIe* drives give you a powerful way to help your customers consolidate their storage space. They can simply store more data on fewer drives. That can also lower their costs, allowing the purchase fewer drives up front, then maintain less space and need less power over time.

The new “ruler” form factor promises even more savings on energy. For one, they use a horizontal, rather than vertical, backplane, enabling unimpeded airflow inside the server. For another, they can use a horizontal midplane with fans for more efficient cooling.

Moving to NVMe* over PCIe* will also let you design your data tiers around a common interface. SATA-based 3D NAND SSDs are limited by both performance and latency. That limits their use mainly to “warm” storage.

With NVMe* over PCIe*, you have more options. You can continue to use 3D NAND SSDs for warm storage. But you can also bring in Intel® Optane™ SSDs for the fast cache and working storage layer. And 3D TLC NAND for the “regular” cache.

Your customers want the flexibility to pick and choose among storage factors. Get them ready to move to NVMe* over PCIe* with Intel® SSDs with NVMe*.

Learn more: Intel® SSD with NVM Express* outperforms SATA SSDs ›